Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry could put in a chit for hardest-working man in show business this year.
When he wasn’t on the road with the band — which, as usual, has been a chunk of the year — Perry could be seen backing Kelly Clarkson during the “American Idol” season finale in May, joining Tom Jones (and, for one song, Joss Stone) at the Concert for Diana in July in London and rocking with country star Toby Keith on a performance that was taped for ABC’s “Elvis: Viva Las Vegas” special that airs Sept. 18.
This is his idea of taking time off?
“It wasn’t planned that way,” Perry, 56, says with a laugh. “It just so happened a couple of these things fell into place, and I wanted to do them, just to keep going. It’s fun.
“Of course it’s surreal,” he adds. “But then, playing the Super Bowl (in 2001) is surreal, too. We’ve done a lot of things for the first time, just to see what they’re like. That’s what keeps it interesting.”
And, Perry contends, he and the other members of Aerosmith are as interested in the band now as they were when they got together in 1970 in Boston and when they released their first album in 1973. The group — which has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001— has increased its concert schedule in recent years and even revisits its “hometowns,” including Detroit, more than once in each touring cycle.
“I think it’s ’cause we realize that we’re closer to the end than the beginning,” Perry explains, pointing to a rash of health concerns — drummer Joey Kramer’s strained shoulder muscles in 2005, singer Steven Tyler’s surgery to correct a popped blood vessel in his throat last year along with bassist Tom Hamilton’s battle with throat cancer — that have shown Aerosmith it won’t last forever.
“When those kinds of things happen and you realize you’re not immortal, you don’t have that 22-year-old’s feeling of ‘This thing can go on forever and I can do what I want to do ... ’; you start to realize it’s a delicate thing.
“I’m still amazed that we can put on the kind of show we put on, which is very physical and energetic. We intend to do that every night, but all I know is that every night could be our last.”
Perry is not a fatalist, however. He’s full of plans for the near future, including a new studio album — Aerosmith’s first since 2004’s “Honkin’ on Bobo.” The group plans to hit the studio Nov. 1, though it hasn’t yet settled on a producer or even a recording site.
“We’re really not sure how it’s actually gonna stack up,” Perry acknowledges. “We may use different producers; I don’t know. The heart and soul of the thing is gonna be us getting in the studio and seeing what comes out.”
The guitarist says there’s already some material around for the album, including songs that Aerosmith was working on in 2006 but were put aside when it ran out of time to finish an album, opting instead to stick two new songs on the “Devil’s Got a New Disguise: The Very Best of Aerosmith” collection. “I always have bits and pieces. Steven always has bits and pieces. It’s just a matter of getting together and rehearsing the stuff,” Perry says.
“I’d like to have songs that the band can play live and have them sound great and not need to have a bunch of overdubs and all that, even though we will do that after the fact. But that’s the icing on the cake. The cake is good songs, and that’s what we’re gonna be shooting for.”
Perry says Grammy-winning producer Rick Rubin, now one of the top executives at Columbia Records, the band’s label, has been involved in discussions about the new album but isn’t necessarily going to produce it himself. March is the target release date, but Perry says with another laugh that “I don’t think we’ve ever delivered a record on time since the first one.”
There’s more on Aerosmith’s future docket, as well. The group is working closely with the makers of the video game “Guitar Hero IV,” an edition that will be dedicated to Aerosmith’s music. And Perry’s food company, which has already produced a line of barbecue sauce, is planning a rollout of a macaroni and cheese line called Rock ’n’ Roni, with four different flavors.
“Everybody in the band has outside stuff like that,” Perry says. “There’s a lot of stuff going on all the time, which is really cool. But the No. 1 concern and priority is Aerosmith, and it always will be.”
Aerosmith and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 8) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $125 and $89.50 pavilion, $42.50 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com
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